Northwest Ordinance

American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

Northwest Ordinance definition


A law passed in 1787 to regulate the settlement of the Northwest Territory, which eventually was divided into several states of the Middle West. The United States was governed under the Articles of Confederation at the time. The Northwest Ordinance organized the territory into townships of thirty-six square miles each and provided for self-government and religious toleration in the territory. Slavery was prohibited.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature